The Colorado Avalanche entered the 2020-21 season as one of the top contenders in the NHL.
So far, they have matched that hype.
Their 5-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night clinched the Presidents’ Trophy for the Avalanche as the owners of the league’s best regular season record. The Avalanche finish the season with 82 points, a mark that is tied with the Vegas Golden Knights. Colorado wins the tiebreaker by having more regulation wins (35 to 30).
It is the third time the Avalanche have won the Trophy, having also won it during the 1996-97 season (when they lost in the Western Conference Final) and the 2000-01 season (when they won the Stanley Cup).
The Avalanche now have home ice advantage throughout the entire postseason, and by securing the West Division title have locked in a First Round matchup with the St. Louis Blues.
Vegas will play the Minnesota Wild in the other West Division First Round matchup.
Thursday’s game completes what has been a wildly dominant regular season performance by one of the league’s deepest and most talented teams.
Among their notable accomplishments this season…
- They finished the season with a plus-64 goal differential, the second-best mark in the league (behind only Vegas’ plus-67). Colorado and Vegas were the only teams with a goal differential better than plus-43.
- They led the NHL with 197 goals scored.
- The Avalanche were second in the league in shots on goal per game (34.4) and first in the NHL in shots on goal against (25.5).
- They attempted more than 58 percent of the total shot attempts during 5-on-5 play. The next closest team attempted just 54 percent. That is a massive gap between the first and second place team.
- Along with their 5-on-5 dominance, they were also a top-eight team on both the power play and penalty kill.
- Not only do they have the best offense and an elite defense, they also a starting goalie (Philipp Grubauer) with a .922 save percentage.
- They have three of the top-25 point producers in the NHL (Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog), including two of the top-eight (MacKinnon and Rantanen). They also have two of the top-20 scoring defensemen (Cale Makar and Samuel Girard), both of him are serious Norris Trophy contenders. Makar is the only defenseman in the NHL that averaged at least a point-per-game in the NHL this season.
All of that is impressive enough on its own. But when you add in the fact they have had significant man-games lost to some of their top players it illustrates just how deep and talented this roster is.
MacKinnon missed eight games. Makar missed 13 games. Girard missed nine games. Brandon Saad missed 12 games. Grubauer missed two weeks. Rantanen missed five games.
They never really slowed down at any point showing remarkable consistency all season. They lost consecutive games in regulation just two different times this season, and never lost more than three games in a row.
On the other end of the spectrum they had four different winning streaks of at least five games or more.
It is at this point where we reference the playoff success of recent Presidents’ Trophy winners. Only two in the salary cap era (since 2005-06) have actually gone on to win the Stanley Cup (2007-08 Detroit Red Wings, 2012-13 Chicago Blackhawks) while only one other (2010-11 Vancouver Canucks) actually reached the Stanley Cup Final.